Growing From Abused Boys To Healed Men

African American boy standing with father

Ty* sits in his drug rehab group for another week. But, this week he decides to share why he’s been so angry most of his life, how he started using drugs and why he has had so many unsuccessful relationships. Ty says, “I just don’t have another run in me. I’ve been in and out of jail and groups for over 30 years now. I’ve been doing this since I was 15. I’ve used almost every drug out there. I thought I could numb this pain that I’ve felt since I was nine but no drug could do that. I tried drugs, making money and having as sex with any woman I could get with, but nothing changed what happened to me. In every group somebody tries to push me to share and usually I just say or do what I have to so I can get out, but this time I need something different. This time I need the pain to go away. I need a real change in my life.”

The pain that this gentleman is referring to is the emotional and traumatic pain experienced after being sexually abused from ages nine through 12 by his stepfather.

READ: Recognizing The Signs Of Sexual Abuse In Children & What To Do

Abuse of a child can come in many forms. According to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Child abuse can be defined as, “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

In 2014, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), reported that of all child abuse cases, almost 75 percent were from neglect, 17 percent were from physical abuse and about 8.3 percent were from sexual abuse.  In addition, a nationally estimated 1,580 children died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.13 per 100,000 children in the national population.

Although not often talked about, many men have been abused in one or in multiple forms. In fact, approximately one in six boys are sexually abused before age 16. The Journal of Traumatic Stress found that up to 80 percent of perpetrators were themselves abused as children.

How Abuse Affects Boys & Men

Abuse can take a toll on victims from the moment it occurs and can have an impact on the person for many years after the incident. Some of the long-term effects of abuse are depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal thoughts, drug & alcohol abuse, erratic and inconsistent behavior and hyper/hypo sexuality. 

READ: From Hurt To Healer: The “Tell Somebody” Movement

In 2005, the Research and Education Unit on Gendered Violence reports that men who were sexually abused as children were 10 times more likely to report suicidal ideation and PTSD.  In addition, 17.2% of community men qualified for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD compared to 65.8% of men who were sexually abused as children.

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